The Greek Islands are known for their beauty and many of them are well-known on the tourist trail. However, one little island, Skopelos, recently shot to fame. Dermott Brereton packed his dancing shoes and went to the delightfully underdeveloped island to see just what happened to put it on the world stage. The trip also gave him the chance to unleash his singing prowess.
It all began with the smash stage musical Mamma Mia! It was so successful that it was turned into a film, with the Greek Islands as its location. It was a great financial decision.
The film showcases the music of the ever-popular Swedish group, ABBA. In fact Benny Andersson, a member of the group, was executive producer (shared with Tom Hanks) and wrote the music score. Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski and Colin Firth were the stars, but maybe little Skopelos was the real star. Even though it was called "Kalokairi" in the film, Skopelos was the main location.
Skopelos is part of the northern Sporades and lies between Skiathos and Alonissos. It's around 300km from Athens and is just 17km long and 8km wide. It has beautiful beaches with clean waters, pine forests, orchards, whitewashed houses in narrow alleys and a charming capital, built amphitheatrically in the heart of a bay. Cycling is the best way to get around. The entire island is dotted with monasteries and the domes of chapels. There is said to be one for every day of the year.
Not far from town is Glysteri Beach. The pebble beach is in a small cove with taverns and emerald waters. The hotel set "Anatoli" is still there. The beach is reached by car or boat, and a visit to the beautiful Cave of Tripiti is recommended.
Amarantos is a little tricky to find, but the stunning location is well worth the walk.
After the walking and singing, Dermott was ready for lunch and found Pavlo's on the beach at Agnondas. It's said to be the best fish tavern around. While it didn't appear in the film, the crew frequented it to eat and chill out. Agnondas is Skopelos' third port and ships and ferries take refuge there when winds prevent them from reaching other ports. It has hotels, rooms for rent and taverns.
Kastani was used for all of the beach scenes. A pier and beach bar were built, but they were dismantled and removed when filming was over.
From the town of Glossa, it's a 40-minute ferry ride to the island of Skiathos which also features in the film. The Agios Nikolaos Church and belltower overlooks the new port and is where the film begins and where Sophie posts letters to her three possible fathers.
Dermott linked up with Cherry Tamouridou, a local guide and an extra in the film. She is proud of her island. It is very green, covered with thick pine forest and has long and golden beaches. Because it is one of the most well-organised of the Greek Islands and has everything tourists need, it is very crowded during July and August. It is a centre of nightlife, cafes and nightclubs.
The locations of the film Mamma Mia!
in the Greek Islands.
Greece and Mediterranean Travel has a six-day "Mamma Mia" package for $849 per person twin share. It includes transfers from Athens, bus and ferry tickets, accommodation on Skiathos and Skopelos and "Mamma Mia" excursion including guide, boat tickets, hotel transfers and lunch.
Mamma Mia! fans can catch the 10th anniversary tour of Mamma Mia!, the stage musical, playing around the country.
Perth from June 5, 2010
Brisbane from August 10, 2010
For more information, visit www.mamma-mia.com.au.
Emirates has flights to Athens at www.emirates.com/getaway.
For further information
Greece and Mediterranean Travel
Suite 2, 644 Botany Road
Ph: (02) 9313 4633 or 1300 661 666
Fax: (02) 9313 4475
Visas: Australian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Greece.
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Time zone: GMT +3.
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